Levin organizing residents to combat hate crimes
Councilmember says, ‘We will not compromise our ideals’
In an attempt to answer a shocking spike in hate crimes across the country that have taken place since Election Day, Councilmember Stephen Levin is organizing two community meetings to gather together Brooklyn residents to develop ideas on how to combat the hateful messages with positive activities.
The idea is to bring together residents and members of local organizations to make a positive change in their community, according to Levin (D-Greenpoint-DUMBO-parts of Brooklyn Heights).
“The very things that make our city great, the shared values of tolerance and inclusion, are being attacked. Those that perpetuate hate have it all wrong. Our diversity, compassion and unity are not weaknesses. They are a source of strength. We will not compromise our ideals. While there have already been deeply troubling incidents of violence and hate in our very own district, I have been heartened by the community’s response. That’s why I’m making this call to action,” Levin said in a statement.
The first meeting, for residents in the North Brooklyn end of Levin’s council district, will take place on Thursday, Dec. 15 at Automotive High School, 50 Bedford Ave., at 6:30 p.m.
Levin has also set up a meeting in downtown Brooklyn on Monday, Dec. 19 at St. Francis College, 182 Remsen St. at 6:30 p.m.
The Southern Poverty Law Center recently released information on more than 300 incidents of “hateful harassment and intimidation” that have been reported nationwide since Election Day. In just the last few weeks, more incidents have been reported than in the preceding six months, according to the center.
The damage has hit home for Brooklyn residents.
On Nov. 18, state Sen. Daniel Squadron’s office received a call reporting spray-painted swastikas and the message “Go Trump” on the playground equipment in Adam Yauch Park in Brooklyn Heights.
Yauch, a founding member of the Beastie Boys who spoke out against hatred targeting Muslims, died in 2012.
A few days later, Squadron and other elected officials gathered in the park with hundreds of outraged local residents to condemn the hate crime. Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys also attended the rally.
“Hatred has no place in our backyard, no place in our city and no place in our country,” Squadron told the overflow crowd in the park. “Anyone who thinks the current political climate will allow oppression to win in this country is wrong. Brooklyn’s diversity represents our country’s great strengths and we will stand up to any who want to undermine its values.”
In an unrelated incident, Police Officer Aml Elsokary and her 16-year-old son were victims of a possible hate crime on Ridge Blvd. and 67th Street in Bay Ridge on Dec. 3, according to police, who said a man yelled ethnic slurs at the cop when she stopped him from pushing her son.
“ISIS [expletive], I will cut your throat. Go back to your country!” the suspect yelled at Elsokary, according to police.
Elsokary, a Muslim who lives in Bay Ridge and works out of the 90th Precinct in Williamsburg, was wearing a traditional hijab at the time of the attack.
The suspect, identified by police as Christopher Nelson, 36, was arrested on Dec. 4. He was charged with menacing in the second degree, a felony. Nelson was arraigned in court on Dec. 5 and was ordered held on $50,000 bail.
Levin said he is determined to hold productive meetings.
“In the face of uncertainty, we must join together with one another to make a positive change in our community. While we keep a watchful eye on what is happening on a national stage, we can also make a difference right here in our neighborhood,” he stated.
For more information, call Levin’s office at 718-875-5200.
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